February 22, 2010

The Unchecked Mining Frenzy In Fiji

Thank Goodness landowners in Nawailevu, Bua are putting in place logical embargo's before bauxite mining commences on their land, and are insisting on an upfront good-will payment of FJD$5million.

We would advise landowners to be guided by current market trends and assess the true value of their commodity, to ensure that they get a fair share against their long-term losses.

The mining company Xinfa Aurum Mining (Fiji) is so eager to sink their fangs into the bauxite that they've paid off Fiji Pine to harvest the logs quickly while Fiji Pine struggles to fell them all. Worryingly we are also told that the 158 hectares that Fiji Pine has leased has overnight been de-reserved and re-classified for mining --- a process that has been undertaken without legal or transparent oversight.

Today's Fiji Times now highlights that another Chinese delegation 60-member strong, are in the country assessing investment opportunities.

They have been invited by the Chairman of another mining company called Oak Mines Fiji, Jamie Hong.  Oak Mines Fiji apparently already holds mining leases in Kadavu, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu with the intention to develop seven mining tenements with prospective gold, bauxite and manganese deposits.

Of course the current mining frenzy has Ian Fong from the Mineral Resources Department short-sightedly ecstatic about the fee's they will generate, conveniently forgetting the long-term negative impacts that will of course be borne by landowners and ultimately taxpayers.

We continue to maintain that all the carrots being dangled by the Fiji Trade and Investment Board are really for the benefit of the Chinese (and therefore no real benefit to local investors).

And we certainly don't buy any of the  PR spin about how locals in Vanua Levu are going to benefit from major infrastructural developments like roads --- as the updgrades unfold, it will become very obvious to the people of Vanua Levu that the new road routes will mainly service and benefit raw bauxite transportation and its consequent export.

Bainimarama's military regime would do well to closely monitor how the mining frenzy in Fiji pans out. Across the ditch in PNG, similar consesquences are already unfolding as Al Jazeera reports:

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